Sunday, December 4, 2011

Prayer for My Daughter.

My daughter is 19 days old and a handful. But this post is not really about that. It’s about what I wish for, on her behalf. We had her almost exactly 7 years after we got married. From the third year itself, as is people’s wont, we were inundated with highly personal questions regarding our plans for a family, which we (on the whole) politely dodged. Then we started seriously thinking about it, and though I don’t know what went through my husband’s mind (I usually don’t) my hesitation stemmed from the awareness that this wasn’t always a wonderful world to bring a child into. That I would be passing on my genes, which, along with curly hair and brown eyes, included a strong propensity (especially among the women—sorry Ma!) to completely ignore the great bounty of blessings heaped upon them and instead grouse and obsess about the less than perfect aspects of our lives. In short to enjoy the act of picking at old sores and watching them bleed.

But then I thought, who knew? He/She might take after his/her father: a more non-tragic, cheerful man I haven’t met, bless him. Also, I had a few good things to pass on as well (some from my parents, some my own) and if we were lucky we could create somebody who would be the best of all of us.

So, now that my daughter Ahana (or Mia, as I call her) is here; with fat cheeks and a little pointed chin like me, and a prominent nose and huge eyes like her Dad: this is all I keep saying over and over in my mind as my blessing to her.

Let this little girl grow into a woman who has many joys in her life; but more important still – let her have the capacity for Joy. Let her have the wisdom to know her blessings and enjoy them fully. And Please, Grand Universe that creates all life, let her have good health, many friends and a family (in her long life after us) that loves her.

And please, let her not blame me too much for all the mistakes I will surely make, while she is my responsibility and one of the two people she depends on the most.

Let her not be too much like me. J

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

La Tomatina and Third World guilt.

Someone on Facebook posted a link about a ‘La Tomatina’ festival in Bangalore, of all places. This is, of course, a regrettable fallout of the move Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which I enjoyed enough to watch twice; and not only because I think Farhaan Akhtar is HOT. But honestly, they filmed the scene in Spain (I think. Unless there really are that many white people hanging around film sets in India.) and to that extent it’s not inappropriate; as I assume no little Spanish children were dying of starvation in the vicinity of the actors (Including the delicious Akhtar) as they frolicked among tomatoes. I still wasn’t comfortable with the scene but one cannot carry one’s local prejudices around like baggage, can one? So I relaxed and just watched the movie.

Hosting one such thing HERE of course is a totally different thing and wildly inappropriate. I’m sure you see why but I’ll tell you anyway, because I’m writing after a long time and fancy a good vent.

People DIE here, because they have nothing to eat, all the time. There’s just something so decadently Marie Antoinettish about it: “If we don’t have bathwater let’s use thousands of fairly expensive vegetables instead.”

Food fights are a staple in a certain kind of Hollywood movie, and they’re welcome to them. What galls me is that some dumbass Hindi movies have started copying it; ignoring the cultural context I’ve just rather unnecessarily elaborated above. They’ll rarely pick up on some of the better values that these movies expound, like holding doors open for people, smiling at passersby, or thanking the waitresses. But FOOD FIGHTS? Oh yes, let’s do what these pretty people do, right after we’ve rubbed in the 4 pm application of our preferred brand of whitening cream.

Unfortunately this has percolated to one of our everyday practices as well. Birthday cakes. Where 10 years ago everyone would very soberly eat their slice of birthday cake, poke around for crumbs, wish the relevant person “Many Happy Returns of the Day”(always in Capitals) before heading off to the basin to wash out their mouths with water; we Indians will now pick up chunks of perfectly edible cake and smear it over the person’s face, in aid of God knows what purpose, and laugh hysterically like this is not the most appallingly wasteful thing to do with expensive cake; and not gross to boot.

In the interests of honesty I should confess, that unlike many conscientious people here I can get a little wasteful with food. If I can’t finish the food on my plate in a restaurant, I don’t have a nervous breakdown wondering what I should do with it. I do let the waiter clear it away. We have on occasion, allowed food to acquire a rare maturity in the fridge and then thrown it out. It is never done with a clear conscience, but it has happened. Normally if there’s food (untouched) we know we’ll never eat we give it to our cleaning lady, who accepts it with a pathetic eagerness that always sends a lance of guilt through my heart. Imagine then if instead we decided to stockpile the lot, call a few friends over and fling it around at each other? How grotesque would THAT be?

I hear that the organizers say the festival will use inedible tomatoes. Whatever that means. It would be better still to just wait for Holi to come around and use our usual toxic colored powders that make people break out in a rash, and land some others in the hospital with temporary blindness.

Atleast you’ll know it’s so poisonous people would be better off not eating it. You're actually doing them a favour. And you can treat your chemical burns with a clear conscience. And a clear conscience is far more valuable than frolicking with a 1000 barechested Farhaan Akhtaars as they rub squashy tomatoes all over you.

...I walked all over my point, didn't I?

Time to watch the movie a third time, methinks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Jerome K Jerome is one of my favourites. He's one of those writers you wish you'd known personally. There are others you greatly admire, but heave a huge sigh of relief that there's no chance of ever having to make light social chit-chat with them.

Me to Tolstoy: "I hear you're very good..."
Me to James Joyce: "Some people seem to like"
Me to Stieg Larsson: "I mean seriously, I don't NEED to know what make the gun is and where and when it was first manufactured, get on with the story already!...That said, sorry you died and all..."

But this Jerome guy seems an amiable soul who seems to echo my very thoughts on most matters; even though we're divided by nearly two centuries, nationality and gender. Here's an essay (I'm sure he would've been a blog writer if he'd lived in our times) to show you what I mean.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Attempted Exorcism

It rained during the day. It being a Sunday, I had a huge-ish lunch and took myself off to snuggle under the covers with my book in the natural air-conditioning of Bangalore during the rains.

I woke an hour later with a yearning for phuchka. I lay in bed and fantasized about being passed a medium-sized phuchka stuffed with aloo and dripping with tamarind water. I would open my mouth wide and force the entire thing in my mouth whole. When I bit down it’d explode with a crunch and the sweet tamarind juice would flood my mouth. After wrestling to not choke on the whole thing for a panic-stricken second or two I would turn to the none-too-clean phuchkawallah again to await my turn as he went around the circle of hungry customers. And the whole process would repeat again.

After braving death-by-choking some 12 times (2 plates) I would wander off, burping hideously and wondering if I would dream of clowns chasing me through sinister streets all night.

But it’s ALL worth it, there’s nothing like a good phuchka, I say. The best ones are in Calcutta of course, but one makes do with what one has.

Unfortunately, I don’t even have access to a local one today. It’s been hours since I woke up from my nap and I still pine for it. Other snacks have been brazenly used as substitutes so I can slake my terrible thirst and forget it for a while.

But it haunts me still, the way the sweet and red-hot liquid rushes around your mouth and makes you splutter…how sometimes if you breathe wrong it goes up your nose, or dribbles out your mouth the days you forget to bring a handkerchief…the way the brittle edges of the broken puffed bread cut into your food pipe, scouring the skin as it forces its way down your gullet…
ENOUGH…I’m-I’m getting the shakes…for the love of God, someone get-get me the name of a good phuchka excorcist…!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Everyday in the papers I read of some busybody who has the time and the inclination to lodge a public interest litigation against some actress or model who has gone against ‘Indian culture’ by saying there’s nothing wrong with pre-marital sex, or more recently because another offered to strip if India won in the World Cup. If you want my opinion the first lady was just telling the truth (which according to the Indian Culture Guardians is a no-no especially for a woman) and the second woman is desperate for attention. Finally she didn’t even keep her word, so one can’t even admire her guts (or other assets she promised to have more obviously on display.)

But going back to my original point, there are worthy Indian citizens who have energy, and righteous indignation enough to lodge cases in the “public interest” against such women, because after all it is a known fact that grievous mental and physical harm is caused to Indians when a woman is sexual of her own volition (be that in good or bad taste, that’s a different issue and a matter of opinion.)

I have just taken two examples from an embarrassingly high number of such cases. One would think we live in an otherwise perfect, crime and injustice free paradise that citizens can worry their little heads about such “improprieties”. What makes my stomach churn is how far from the truth this is. Recently (and just bringing this up makes me nauseous but it has to be said) the papers had reported that a gang of thugs in Pune were ambushing courting couples and forcing them to have sex with each other while they recorded it, after which, of course, no doubt as ‘punishment’ for being so licentious the men took turns raping the woman. And guess what? The police can’t consider this a case until ‘someone files a complaint’.

I don’t know if I missed the report where many public minded citizens then sprang to the defence of the victims of these horrifying crimes, and lodged PIL after PIL, but I’m guessing The Indian Culture Police didn’t really think these incidents worth their outrage.

What’s going on here? What’s behind this attitude? It’s fine for a woman to be a victim but not the mistress of her own body, is that it? Well let me tell you something, that’s not Indian Culture. If you had a little bit of sense of history you’d know that.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say. It’s disturbing.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I want to write I want to write I want to write!!!
Have loads to tell but no words to write it with.
Will try a laxative.
BTW: Bill Bryson rocks my world.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Top 5 Things that make me want to beat a person to a bloody pulp.

What bothers me is when people fill in the gaps with fabrications that suit them, when you don’t supply them with the inside goss.

“We all know you left the party early because you were invited as an afterthought! Don’t think we’re so stupid-aa?”

“I left early because YOU were there and you really ARE that stupid. Now you know.”

Or :

“…I know how you are, you must’ve said something to upset him.”

“Hello??? Were you THERE??? Do you know ANYTHING about what happened that day???”

“Now you’re being defensive”

(Throttling noises)

And so on.

I think drawing conclusions is a compulsive human habit, but surely this free reign you give to your imagination should be kept to yourself, and not so proudly displayed. It’s not a skill, unless you can write a book with it.

Another thing people do is act all innocent when they’re being offensive. Leaving you baffled and even madder than if they’d said it in a catty way.

After asking how much I weigh (which in itself is offensive) and then after some lengthy mental math, person says in girly voice“Does that mean I’m heavier than YOU?? It can’t be.” (This actually happened recently.)

I mean honestly in which universe is that not down right bitchy? So stop lisping like you’re two and just admit you wanted to get in a punch right in the wee-wee.

On a slightly unrelated note, but still equally annoying, are strangers who walk through a door when you hold it open for yourself/people walking with you. They’ll sweep past you with their nose in the air while you’re left holding the door open and wondering if you should click your heels together and salute. I do not exaggerate that once at a shop I had to keep the door open while no less than 20 people trooped through for about a minute and a half -- without acknowledgement or even once offering to take my place as unofficial doorman.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I just make sure my group is through and then let it swwwwiiiing back into these people’s faces if they attempt to make a break for it.

If I see a person do this even once, however wonderful they might turn out to be later; they are utterly, irrevocably DEAD to me.

Another annoying thing which unfortunately I seem to do a lot myself nowadays, (I’ve inherited this from my parents so it’s their fault); is to think every statement made in your hearing is a desperate request for advice.

I caught myself giving copious marriage advice to a colleague who happened to mention he was getting married next month. 10 minutes later, I stopped myself mid-flow on noting his glazed expression, and sent him on his way. 20 years later, no doubt, I’d be waxing eloquent on the benefits of exercise and eating a healthy diet to some unlucky youngster who made a random comment about cotton candy.

I also think Posers are annoying. You can tell that there’s a particular kind of image that these Posers want to project, and would sell their own grand aunts if it meant society would promise to see them that way. Sometimes it’s not the natural thing to say or do in a given situation, and you KNOW that the person was probably leaning towards a more standard reaction, but it’s almost as if the image whispers into his ear at the last minute, and says “You HAVE to make a sexist comment about that woman in front of you RIGHT now; because it’s thoroughly inappropriate and people will TOTALLY buy your arrogant playboy image (viz ME).”


“But nothing boy, just because she’s a policewoman investigating your grand aunt’s disappearance doesn’t mean you’ll slip out of character! Man up and say something about her chest!”

To my chagrin, I realized a few days ago I can be a poser too, especially when I want to impress people. And I have to hold the pose even if I’m tired or the people around me don’t care. It’s a compulsion and it’s annoying. If you don’t know already, my pose is the “ Says self-deprecating and hopefully funny things about herself.”

(See? There I go again.)

Since I seem to be guilty of 2 of the 5 things that make me wish bodily harm on a person, you are permitted to give me a bruised shin or a black eye when you meet me next. I guess it’s only a matter of time before I start doing ALL the other stuff I mentioned here, in which case you have my permission to beat me to a bloody pulp.